When it comes to barbecuing, steaks are one of the most well known staple foods. It’s considered one of the simplest yet most versatile dishes available. With the right cuts, all that’s really needed to make a steak is cooking it for a few minutes on each side. Any side dish goes great with a steak, making them one of the most well known dishes throughout the world.
However, one small problem pops up when it comes to grilling a steak. There are different levels of doneness, each relating to how thoroughly cooked through the meat is. If you ask any barbeque enthusiast or chef, chances are that they’ll recommend one of two levels; medium or medium-rare. The more rare the steak is, the more tender and juicy it is and these two levels are right in the middle.
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This article also covers the essentials of the differences between medium and medium-rare steaks and how you can cook them up for your next backyard party.
Medium vs Medium Rare
One of the best ways to tell how done your steak is is to cut into it. A properly done medium-rare steak is ideally pink on the inside, with a little hint of red close to the centre. Though many steak lovers and barbecue enthusiasts highly recommend them at this level, some people may not prefer it due to the fact the juices look like blood. However, due to the steak’s firmer outside and tender middle, the juice is actually a perfectly edible type of meat protein.
Medium steaks, on the other hand, are more brown towards the centre. Though it’s less tender and juicy, many North Americans prefer this level of doneness for that exact reason. It is still fairly soft, however, due to the main fact that medium steaks have a hint of pink at the centre. When compared to a more grilled steak, these are likely a good balance since they keep at least a bit of the juice a less piece would have.
Internal temperatures and other ways to check
If you’re barbecuing a steak, it’s more than likely that you aren’t grilling a single steak just for yourself. In the case you’re grilling them up for friends, coworkers or your extended family, cutting into the steak to check how well cooked it is isn’t the best idea. This is where a meat thermometer comes in handy.
Depending on the level of doneness each person wants, the internal temperature of the centre should be close. The hotter the centre, the more thoroughly cooked it is. For medium-rare steaks, the internal temperature should be within 130 degrees to 135 degrees fahrenheit – or 54 degrees to 57 degrees celsius. Medium steaks should be between 140 to 150 degrees fahrenheit or 60 to 65 degrees celsius.
Another way to check if the steaks are cooked to the ideal doneness is to use the palm or finger test. The test mainly involves measuring the overall firmness of the steak to your palm. With your fingertips touching each other, the heel of your hand between your thumb and palm simulates how the steak should feel. Using the finger test to compare a medium-rare steak is similar to pressing your middle finger to your thumb, while a medium steak should be like pressing your ring finger with your thumb.
Knowing the exact feel a medium-rare or medium steak has takes some time to get the hang of, though. If you feel nervous about touching a potentially hot steak or would rather not poking it and risking any juices from escaping, you can always cook each side for a set amount of time. Medium-rare steaks need an average of five minutes on each side, though five on one side and four on the other works just as well. Medium steaks similarly cook for a minute longer – an average of six minutes on each side.
Types of steaks
The type of steak itself needs to be taken into consideration when barbecuing them, too. How much fat content and whether or not the steak cuts have bones can influence how long they need to be cooked. If your beef cuts are leaner, chances are that they’d taste much better if the steaks are cooked medium-rare. Additionally, if some of your steaks have bones in them, those steaks need a longer time to cook than ones without.
Some of the most common steak cuts are also recommended to be cooked to different levels of doneness as well. Cuts like filet-mignon and t-bones should be grilled to either medium-rare or medium to keep their flavours while New York strip steaks are the best when cooked to medium. Thicker cuts can also be charred on the outside but still properly cooked to be tender on the inside.
Grilling other meats
One great thing about steaks is that you can cook them to different temperatures all depending on what a person prefers. However, not everyone will want barbecued steaks and it’s more than likely that you won’t be grilling nothing but steaks all summer long.
If you’re planning to grill chicken, pork or turkey, make sure that it’s cooked completely. Each meat needs to be at different internal temperatures as well. Pork needs to reach a temperature of 145 degrees fahrenheit or roughly 63 celsius. Chicken or turkey legs need to be between 160 to 165 fahrenheit – 71 to 74 celsius – at the thickest area of the meat. If you’re barbecuing a whole chicken or turkey, the minimum internal temperature should reach 165 fahrenheit ti be considered safe and fully cooked, though higher is also accepted.
Knowing the differences between a medium-rare steak and a medium one can be as simple as cutting into it. However, when it comes to serving steaks up after barbecuing, cutting into one to check isn’t always acceptable. All you need is a meat thermometer but, sometimes all you need is a timer.